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Old 03-11-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
Daniel Gates
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Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

My deadlift form is terrible, in all the usual ways. Here is my question: why is it easier to lift the weight using a rounded back than your legs?

When I approach my max, I try to push off my heels, keep my chest up, my back straight, power up through my legs--and I can't move the bar. But I can lift the bar with terrible form, straightening my legs first, rounding my back, and yanking the bar up.

But the muscles in the legs and butt are more powerful than the ones in the lower back, right? Why can I deadlift more using all the "wrong" muscles?
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:20 AM   #2
Jason Peacock
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

My thoughts as a simple athlete...

Depending on your fitness history, you may need to retrain your muscles to work again. Setting up properly for the deadlift puts the effort on the correct muscles, but from disuse/misuse they're not use to being utilized.

You've probably spent however long using your back instead of your legs for lifting, and you've trained your back muscles to be used for lifting. That doesn't make it good, and you'll quickly hit your lifting limit relying solely on your back strength (if you don't hurt yourself first).

You need to drop the weight until you can lift correctly, using the correct muscles. There's a number of accessory movements you can do as well to help retrain your muscles. Once you get those muscles firing you'll find your lifts increasing rapidly because the weakness is due to lack of muscle recruitment and not weak muscles. You'll make awesome gains and should exceed your max 'back lifting' weights.

I have similar issues - I can deadlift well, but I have a weird twist as I lift the bar. I also can't do a pistol. That means I have a weakness/misfiring element in my posterior chain that needs to be fixed. Nothing to do with being strong or weak and all about proper muscle recruitment...once I get those lazy muscles all firing together I should be able to go from 0 to 10 pistols.

And the same for HSPU - can't do any, but can strict press >70% BW.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
Daniel Gates
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

This is helpful. Obviously, I am a complete novice; the concept of "retraining" the correct muscles to move the weight makes sense. Thank you!
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:49 AM   #4
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

For the same reasons that a lot of people I've coached (females in particular, for some reason) do pushups with too much internal rotation....i.e. elbows flared out 90 degrees from their bodies. That's a bad position for the shoulder in terms of strength and preventing impingement, but when they put their elbows/upper arms where they should be (about 45 degree angle from their body) they suddenly can't do pushups. The reason is that years of doing bad pushups means that they haven't stressed and strengthened the big, powerful muscles that should be the primary movers during a pushup, so until they get those muscles up to strength they'll be better at doing "bad" pushups.
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Old 03-11-2012, 05:05 PM   #5
Daniel Gates
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

In other words, because the muscles of the "posterior chain" really aren't yet strong enough to lift the weight. Well, that probably shouldn't be too surprising, even if it is frustrating. Thanks for the insight.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:09 PM   #6
Jon Gray
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

Look into some of the Westside Barbell accessory work training to strengthen the lower back. There are the basic back extensions, good mornings (be careful with these and only bend at the hip), Also, the training some of you deadlifts in a different stance. A very wide stance will allow you to get closer to the bar, and give you a good feel for how to keep you back straight. Another great back exercise are Band Pull Throughs.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:20 PM   #7
Shawn Bellon
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Gates View Post
My deadlift form is terrible, in all the usual ways. Here is my question: why is it easier to lift the weight using a rounded back than your legs?

When I approach my max, I try to push off my heels, keep my chest up, my back straight, power up through my legs--and I can't move the bar. But I can lift the bar with terrible form, straightening my legs first, rounding my back, and yanking the bar up.

But the muscles in the legs and butt are more powerful than the ones in the lower back, right? Why can I deadlift more using all the "wrong" muscles?
Plenty of world class lifters do pull with a rounded back.

I would worry more about getting hurt in training so work at keeping the lower back locked and engaged as possible. I hate saying it but you could be an exception to the rule.

Try working some Zurcher squats paused at the bottom of the rack. Also possibly deficit deadlifts.

I would need a video to answer more.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:22 PM   #8
Shawn Bellon
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Gates View Post
In other words, because the muscles of the "posterior chain" really aren't yet strong enough to lift the weight. Well, that probably shouldn't be too surprising, even if it is frustrating. Thanks for the insight.
Not necessarily. You are using your butt and hams ALOT! Honestly much of Crossfit does that jack knife style of deadlifting anyway.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:23 AM   #9
Jonathan Munoz
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

Please read this article by Jim Smith over at diesel crew. Watch the video too it will help you greatly

http://www.dieselcrew.com/how-to-dea...ing-techniques
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:48 AM   #10
Amanda S Throm
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Re: Very bad, rounded-back deadlift

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Gates View Post
My deadlift form is terrible, in all the usual ways. Here is my question: why is it easier to lift the weight using a rounded back than your legs?

When I approach my max, I try to push off my heels, keep my chest up, my back straight, power up through my legs--and I can't move the bar. But I can lift the bar with terrible form, straightening my legs first, rounding my back, and yanking the bar up.

But the muscles in the legs and butt are more powerful than the ones in the lower back, right? Why can I deadlift more using all the "wrong" muscles?
I'm pretty new to CrossFit, but the trainer at my box stressed that keeping your back straight and tight is key to getting the deadlift right without pulling anything in your lower back which would cause you to be out of commission for a few months.

With a rounded back, you're relying too much on your arms to get the weight up, which defeats the purpose of the deadlift and puts too much pressure on your back in general. It should all be in your legs and hips; it's why you drive your hips forward when the bar is at its full extension.

I might be totally wrong, but so far my back is stronger than it has been since I was 16.
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